Hawaii Bowl Preview: Fresno State, SMU Have a Few Extra Hours Before Santa Comes

Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE

Fresno State has tended to win by big margins so far this season. Can the wildly inconsistent Mustangs somehow manage to get an upset?

Sheraton Hawaii, Monday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Why it exists: Because there's a complete dearth of reasons for people to go to Hawaii in December

The Teams: Fresno State and Southern Methodist

How Fresno State got here: On a scorched earth campaign. The Bulldogs won all of their victories by double digits -- including clocking Colorado by 55 points, though that has to come with the caveat that Colorado was playing like Colorado that week. The flip side of that is that there were double-digit margins of defeat for Fresno State in games at Oregon (17) and Boise State (10) to go along with the one-point loss at Tulsa. Still, the Bulldogs were near the top of the Mountain West in most of the major offensive and defensive statistical categories. Derek Carr was one of the 10 most efficient quarterbacks in the nation, while Robbie Rouse rushed for 122.3 yards per game. On the defensive side, Phillip Thomas leads the nation with eight interceptions this year.

How SMU got here: Unevenly. Here's what the SMU season looked like in a line: L-W-L-L-W-L-W-W-L-W-L-W. For those of you keeping score at home, that's just one losing streak of two games and one winning streak of two games all season long. There didn't even seem to be much internal logic to the Mustangs' season; they lost to Tulane by one and then dropped 72 on Houston to win by 30. (Houston would later defeat Tulane by 23.) SMU gave up an average of 400.3 yards per game on defense and only generated an average of 366.2 ypg on offense. They also won the turnover battle by an average of one per game, and that helps a bit.

College football fans care because: It's the only bowl game between Saturday and Wednesday.

SEC fans care because: Tim DeRuyter -- the head coach at Fresno -- used to coach at Texas A&M, but that was before the Aggies moved to the SEC. Hey, it's early in the bowl season right now.

Watch this game if...: You're looking to pass some time while waiting for Santa Claus

The result: Fresno State 39, SMU 20

Line: Fresno State by 12

[Record straight up (counting Twitter predictions): 5-1; ATS 2-4]

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